I discovered a new reality series the other day. I usually just flip through these shows only stopping to watch a few seconds of them, but this one inparticular seemed to captivate my attention. MTV’s reality special TI’s Road to Redemption: 45- Days To Go made me start to think; was this just an act to help troubled teens or a clever PR plan?
Let me back up for just a second and explain the background behind this docu-series. TI’s Road to Redemption: 45- Days To Go, came about after Grammy award- winning, hip-hop artist, TI was arrested in posession of several weapons in 2007. To further the matter, TI is also a convicted felon stemming back from his teenage years, which worsened the charges he faces. In an effort to lesson his possible 30 year sentence, lawyers of the superstar made a bargain with the judge, which included 1000 hours of community service to be completed in a year at which he would be sentenced. The show is a part of this community service effort in which TI is followed by a camera crew as he visits several troubled teens on the same path as he once was.
At the height of his career (only a few months after his new album hit #1 on the charts) TI finds himself in a deep pool of legal trouble that will undoubtly come with some prison time. What do you do in a situation like this? Well, find the positive in the bad and maintain the reputation of the artist. This is exactly what TI’s publicist and record label did. What I find remarkable about this PR strategy was that they managed to maintatin a positive image of the superstar although he is facing criminal charges.
Most would see trouble like this as a huge kink in ones career, but this plan took the fact that he had a criminal background and used it to create an image of one who wants to help todays youth from making the same mistakes. His docu- series shows him spending time with several troubled youths, telling them stories of his “days in the hood” and taking them to prisons to talk to inmates. Clever? I think so! Not only does it maintain a positive reputation with the media and his fans, but it also draws attention to TI right before he does his time in prison. Perhaps to keep media appearance and even a fan base at a high why he is doing his time (the show most likely will play several times on MTV over the next year).
Furthermore, I found this PR tactic great in the fact that it didn’t try to hide or cover up the truth, rather it put it all out there. It played on the crisis at hand and developed a strategy, a show, that played on the downfall of this superstar. This plan brought attention to the fact that TI is being faced with prison time and highlighted part of his punishment (community service), but it was presented in a positive light in which will save the reputation of this artist. I believe this move secured the image and career of the hip-hop artist.
The effects of this strategy are already seeing results. Article after article I read on the subject had room for comment at the end from fans and those visiting the site. About 99% of all comments were positive about the artist, some even referring to him as amazing.